Bell's Expedition Stout - Bell's Brewery, Inc.

Not Rated.
Bell's Expedition StoutBell's Expedition Stout

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BA SCORE
95
world-class

5,471 Ratings
THE BROS
98
world-class

(view ratings)
Ratings: 5,471
Reviews: 2,012
rAvg: 4.25
pDev: 10.59%
Wants: 465
Gots: 1,402 | FT: 114
Brewed by:
Bell's Brewery, Inc. visit their website
Michigan, United States

Style | ABV
Russian Imperial Stout |  10.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: BeerAdvocate on 01-10-2002

Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 5,471 | Reviews: 2,012
Photo of jwc215
2.73/5  rDev -35.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Pours pitch black with a light brown head that soon fades to a patch, then disappears. Nice color, but disappointing head. I know that the abv works against head retention, but there was none to speak of.

The smell is of dark chocolate with some subtle dark fruit notes. The alcohol masks most of the aromas.

Thick, dark chocolate with an alcohol punch upfront. The sweet chocolate is so dominant that it reminded me of a chocolate stout more than an IRS. It is certainly full-bodied, but more in a chocolate malt sort of way. It reminds me of when I was a child and would put too much chocolate syrup in my milk. The alcohol creates a harsh edge, as it is not masked in any way. As there is little, if any hops, it becomes cloyingly sweet. They have the chocolate and alcohol down pat, but where is the complexity that the style calls for? A dark fruit essence tries to come through, but that is too syrupy and masked by the chocolate and alcohol.
The feel is creamy and softer than the taste, but without any carbonation it does not go down so easily. And, again, the sharp alcohol edge detracts more than adds.
I can appreciate a beer with a high abv, and this is one of my favorite styles, but this one doesn't do it for me. Overly malty, even for the style, no carbonation, and the alcohol is not masked and doesn't really add to the flavor, leaving the sweet rich chocolate to be the only dimension to its potential.

Photo of grub
4.55/5  rDev +7.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

got this bottle as a bonus in a recent trade with nlmartin. thanks nate!

pours an opaque black colour with a full inch of dense dark brown head. after a few minutes the head drops and leaves lots of lace behind.

aroma nice. very rich bready malt. some roast. dark chocolate. just a hint of alcohol.

taste is nice. rich, roasty flavour. thick bready malt. espresso and dark chocolate. a little alcohol in the flavour and a little warm on the way down. some licorice too.

mouthfeel is thick and rich. moderate carbonation that seems about right.

drinkability is good. it's thick and rich and almost seems more like a sipping drink. very well balanced and quite tasty. would be nice to try this one after some aging.

Photo of yelterdow
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Enormous thanks to EPseja for procuring this beer from his recent Michigan trip... at $18.99 a sixer, this one's got some explaining to do!

Served at cellar temperature in a snifter. Batch 7251, bottled on February 25, 2006.

Appearance- Black as night, with the darkest head I've ever seen on a beer... amazing swelling carbonation from within the depths of the beer, growing to about a finger-thick head and reducing to a half centimeter. Looks like a liquid Hershey's dark chocolate pool... with bubble size ranging from indiscernable to medium and large size. Upon swirling, the black abyss regenerates a new creamy head and becomes even darker than before. Wow.

Smell- Rich, fudge brownie with mocha-laced aromas of chocolate, cookies, and rum. Notes of floral hops tingle the tip of the nose. Very ingredient-dense. Alcohol is not a detractor here at all.

Taste- A virtual oil slick of flavor, with an incredible length of hop bitterness. First comes a rich, dark cocoa combined with a mocha character... then the wickedly decadent and smooth richness follows.

Mouthfeel/Drinkabililty- Fantastic in the mouth... sublime swelling from milky liquid to creamy foam. Savor each sip, it's genuinely huge and enjoyable.

Photo of onsite416
4.75/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Appearance: black. Head bubbles to a glorious brownish froth. A lacing almost as impressive as true Turkish coffee is left as you swirl the glass, exquisite. Smell: roasted malts right away, and a smokiness I can’t put my finger on. An enticing aroma! Taste: with all of the aromas the taste does not disappoint. very thick. It starts off very roasty, the alcohol pretty well hidden for a beer of this caliber, it ends with a nuttiness that does not end. You are constantly chewing for different flavors. There are also hints of caramel and coco too. The finish is a little bitter. Mouth feel: This is not a harsh beer, but it is certainly not easy one either. Very smooth and extremely creamy. Drinkability: OK they should almost have a warning on the label "one is more than enough." Session beer? (You will hurt yourself 11.5 ABV). This is a big Imperial stout. Have fun.

Photo of GimpyCane
4.4/5  rDev +3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

This Russian Imperial Stout rules. On a night when I had several stouts to compare to Bell's Expedition Stout came on top. Poured a thick black motor oil w/ a 1 2/2 inch mocha brown head. The sight made me think I was going to drinking a cuban expresso. The aroma was amazing and well balanced, sweet molasses, strong coffee and a vicious alcohol scent. The scent of alcohol doesn't disappoint as it also lingers in your mouth forever w/ a thick full body syrupy feeling. At 11.5% ABV, this brew doesn't play around and it's great for sipping.

Photo of kimcgolf
3.26/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2 | overall: 3

Timing is, again, everything. I was really looking forward to this beer, as it is one of the top-rated in the world. However, I found that it is NOT the beer for a hot summer’s night. Great aroma of very sweet malty chocolate and carmel. The taste follows suit, and at first was enjoyable. However, by mid glass, the beer seemed to get thicker and sweeter, and by the end, the alcohol was leaving a very warming sensation and it was like drinking a sweet thick syrup. I intend to pick up another bottle of this when I’m in the midwest, and next time drink it on a cold winter’s night, maybe as an after-dinner drink.

Photo of peabody
4.08/5  rDev -4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured roughly into a pint glass and the suds seemed to take a long time to develop. Dark brown suds with a little lacing.No light can penetrate this concoction.
Raisin and plum and cherry are the first thing I smell.Sugar and malt are the second thing.
First taste is quite bitter but the chocolate and coffee are strong here.
No alcohol present even though it is a high abv. Grapes and raisins
and dark malt with a touch of hops.
Mouthfeel is very clean and the dark tastes stay in the mouth for a while. The alcohol is only present at the very end of the taste.
I like this beer. Too bad I can't get it all the time.

Photo of gmfessen
4.22/5  rDev -0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured into a pint glass, beer is so dark, light cannot penetrate it. There is almost no head and the beer is very heavy. The smell is wonderful, of intense/complex chocolate malts with hints of caramel. The taste is just as complex, with an alcohol bite at the end, but not too bad considering the 11.5%. Almost no hop taste is apparent, covered completely by the roasted chocolate malt taste. The mouthfeel is dense and smooth, a very thick beer with little carbonation. This beer would be best served as a nightcap, served in a snifter - to be smelled, enjoyed and sipped, not drank in mass quantity.

Photo of Backer2004
5/5  rDev +17.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Beer heaven, I have finally found you. Six years ago, a camp counselor friend in Michigan told how great Expedition Stout was and since then, I've been looking forward to trying it. I was not disappointed one bit.

It was poured in a nice snifter. No carbonation with lots lacing, thick and murky. Wonderful mix of chocolate, raisins, caramel, and malts. I loved every bit of it more than i've ever loved another beer.

Photo of jdoolin
4.39/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Presentation: 12oz bottle, poured into a brandy snifter

Appearance: Dead black, like old motor oil. A slight brown head formed and dissipated quickly, leaving a ring of brown lace the entire time.

Aroma: Heavenly aroma of roasted barley, molasses, hints of coffee and chocolate, and of course a bit of alcohol. This beer smelled so good, I couldn't keep my nose out of the snifter the entire time.

Taste and Mouthfeel: Thick, smooth and creamy, like velvet. Just enough carbonation to achieve this and maintain the ring of lace. Taste was an ode to roasted malt. All of the usual roasted malt flavors are here and are wonderfully exemplifed. Of course, the roasted barley itself, coffee (especially in the finish) and chocolate. No hop flavor. Bitterness seems to be achieved more by the roasted malt than the hops. The alcohol was present but subdued by the roasted malt flavors.

Notes: A superb imperial stout. I thought the alcohol would have more presence, but I was pleasantly surprised. The roasted malts are the center of this beer, and Kalamazoo has done a fantastic job exploiting them. A great after dinner sipping beer.

Photo of DaveFL1976
4.57/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Wow, that's black.
They should have another word for things this dark.
I spilled a drop on the countertop while I was pouring. I think my countertop is stained now. It's black.
But not relaly much of a head. A tan head surfaced at first, but by the time I sat down, the head was gone, and didn't really bother to cling to the side of the glass, either. Oh well.
The smell is lovely. Chocolate, coffee, and jsut general sweetness. No alcohol is discernable on the nose. It's nice. Really nice.
Taste? Holy cow! Huge! Massive! Chocolate just kicked me in the face. It's sweet, but with a bitter finish. Warm on the back of the throat. Really nice.
Mouthfeel is full and creamy, with those same microscopic tiny bubbles that I tasted in Westvleteren beers. It's great.
But huge. Huge to the point that drinkability might suffer a bit. I couldn't imagine drinking more than one in a sitting. But what a sitting!

Photo of watermelonman
4.5/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

This poured to a deep and heavy black with only minor head and lace.

The smell is great. Roasted malt, chocolate, and a touch of coffee come through strong, while a touch of esters and molasses can be found too. The taste is also powerful. Dark malts dominate up front. Chocolate and coffee come back, then hops take over the finish. The mouthfeel is full and pleasing. Drinkability is very good for the alcohol content.

This is a very good beer.

Photo of mjc410
4.1/5  rDev -3.5%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

First bottle from my very own case...

The pour into my venerable La Moneuse tulip at first made me fear that there would be head head whatsoever, but out of nowhere bubbles appeared in the incredibly viscous ink. The bubbles themselves are incredibly thick-walled and oily looking. I had a Yeti the other day, and this appears even more massive, although the head is a good deal lighter, only a medium light brown, with large bubbles and thick lacing. It hangs around for quite a while, too. And what can be said about the body except BLACK? No light, no hope. None.

Smell is incredibly toasty and espresso-like. Definitely smells like expensive brownies, and fudge. Smells bitter, too. I like.

Good gracious, what is this taste? I'm at a loss for words - this is unique! Alcohol, definitely, and wood, for sure. Caramel leads the flavors. I'm picking up on some chocolate notes, and a coffee finish. I was hoping for more chocolate coffee flavors, though. Does become a bit cloying, as well.

Too heavy? Maybe...this certainly is the thickest beer I've ever had. No carbonation, either. Still, it is fitting. Although this beer certainly would be a good candidate for a nip bottle...

I will reach for another, and I do like this a lot, but I wished for a bit more. Not the best RIS I've had, but still nice. I think it'll age well...I certainly have enough to find out!

Photo of hckyfn9999
3.9/5  rDev -8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 3.5

I have high hopes going in at $15 a sixer, although I guess I've paid more at a bar for worse beers. Poured out of a bottle, there is minimum tan colored head that disappears quickley and leaves a little lacing around the glace. The color is jet black.

There is a smell of alcohol and dark chocolate and maybe raisons.

The taste is of espresso and chocolate. There is a bitterness consistant with espresso. The taste of alcohol is also very present, yet is pretty drinkable with the high levels of alcohol.

The mouthfeel of this beer is the only subpar aspect of this beer. It feels like watery hershey's syrup with little carbonation.

Overall, a pretty solid beer although I dont think that I will buy it very often because of the price, but I am not disappointed in my purchase.

Photo of scalffd
3.31/5  rDev -22.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Perhaps I am too much of a newbie, but this beer did nothing for my palate. While highly regarded among beer enthusiasts, the alcohol dominated this beer from aroma to finish. The pitch black color was exciting, but the small, fizzy head that soon disappeared was lackluster. The smell and taste of alcohol was too overwhelming to be enjoyable and more balance would make the beer more pleasant. I prefer the Bell's Kalamazoo stout. Sorry, not a fan.

Photo of Westsidethreat
4.72/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours just brutally thick. Appears to have no carbonation at all until bubbles are conjured out of no where and a 1/2 head of dark beige bubbles forms then gently falls. A ring remains with faint remnants of the head that once was across the top.

S: Molasses, marshmallow cream, cherries, red grape juice, black patent and resinous chocolate. Delightful

T: Begins very rich and creamy with some serious chocolate expressions. Reminds me of a luxurious chocolate-espresso cream you'd find in the middle of a killer cake. Moments remind me of a premeire chocolate syrup laced with cognac. The beer then transitions from a quaint dessert to something a bit more unrefined....the roasted coffee characteristics and severe bittering hops turn this once friendly puppy into an aggresive beast. With out an ounce of remorse, the roastedness dominates the palate before ever so slowly dwindling away leaving the mouth in shock and awe.

M: Full bodied with a great mouthfeel.

D: One of the most complex stouts on the market. This beer takes the tongue for a ride. Absolutely excellent imperial stout.

Photo of burnstar
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours black and thick out of the bottler. Huge persistant dark tan head clings to the glass as it slowly recedes. Coffee and chocolate roasted malt aroma dominates the nose along with some excellent fruit notes. Powerful espresso and chocolate roasted malt flavor hits first. The finish is powerful alcohol followed quickly by hoppy bitterness. There is a lingering roasted malt aftertaste and bitterness with notes of fruit. Mouthfeel is heavy. Not extremely drinkable but very good stuff. Definitely could pick up a six pack of this in the winter.

Photo of klewis
3.64/5  rDev -14.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 3.5

Batch 7251

A: Pours a thick black with a small tan head. Specks of lacing.

S: The smell is primarily of fusel alcohol with some roasted coffee and chocolate aromas.

T: Huge taste with rich coffee flavors and earthy undertones. A touch of alcohol in the finish.

M: Thick and chewy with fine carbonation. The flavor lingers for a long time.

D: A very good RIS, but the alcohol in the nose is a bit much. This one seems a little young right now, and a year or two of cellaring would do it well.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.28/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

A big "Thank you!" to BlackAngus for trading me this one.
Poured from a 12oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is pitch black with a thin dark brown head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: Heavy coffee & chocolate aroma with roasted malt, a touch of dark fruits and a hint of alcohol.

T: Heavy roasted coffee flavor dominates the taste. As you drink more of it, you start to get a little bit of the bitter dark chocolate & hops which completely hides the high ABV.

M: Smooth, oily & thick, full bodied, light carbonation, very sticky finish though.

D: Tasty & smooth and you certainly wouldn't know that the ABV is at 10.50%, which makes you want another and another until they start catching up to you.

Photo of luvND
4.52/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

P: 12 oz bottle, batch 7251, bottled 2/24/06
A: Absolute jet black, settles into a nice 1/4 inch head that laces nicely down the glass
S: Beautiful, toasted malt, chocolate, coffee, just pleasing
T: Rich, chocolate again with some coffee, the hops do come through and leave a really nice aftertaste
M: Thick, as it should be for the style, sticks to the tongue after the swallow
D: Very drinkable for over 10% alcohol, I have a slight cold, but I can neither smell or taste the alcohol
Notes: This is one great stout, maybe top 3 in my book. I will definitely try to get a case of this every year. We'll see how it ages, but it is damn fine as is, right now.

Photo of hoppymeal
4.25/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Pours black with minimal reddish brown head that fades quickly. Very big, rich aroma is comprised of smoky and peaty smells with roasted malts, and a vinuous and big bourbony booziness. Taste reveals rich sugary malts, a hint of chocolate liqueur, quite sugary as it rolls on the tongue with some cola like flavor as well. A pleasant warming alcohol bite finishes the taste and there is a slightly drying aftertaste of roasted and smoky flavors. Nice big and chewy mouthfeel, a very rich and enjoyable ris. From batch 7205 at cellar temp.

Photo of kaimcm
4.01/5  rDev -5.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

bottle poured into a pint glass. carried back from Ohio by my bud, cheers Croix!

A: black as tar with a really dark chocolate head. one of the darkest heads Ive seen in recent memory. nice light stick.

S: sweet and roasty malt, some vanilla and bourbon-esque notes. smells a tad stale. hints of cinammon and even cherries. booze.

T: huge creamy wave immediately followed by some roasted bitterness. a little chocolate is overtaken by lots of stale coffee which is then itself replaced by a grounds bitterness. toffee, some of that elusive aromatic cherry. a earthy woodyness persists on the finish which is mostly dry with just a touch of residual sweetness.

M: incredible. like a malted milkshake. big, thick, creamy, just awesome.

D: huge body, 11.5%, and not available in Mass! but all things considered this goes down pretty well on this painfully humid night. one a night for sure though, quite filling.

Photo of DuqTroops
3.03/5  rDev -28.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2

Appearance - very very dark in color with a tannish head atop the body.

Smell - lots of great aromas from this. chocolate / coffee

Taste - overwhelming taste of alcohol. too much for this lightweight. the smell is a lot better than the taste.

Mouthfeel - too much alcohol in the taste and could not handle this.

Drinkability - i couldn't handle one beer, let alone two.

Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.55/5  rDev -16.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Thanks to Golden2wenty1 for the sample.

Dark, near opaque brown with a Crayola brown skim on top. Crude like. Well hopped and burning aroma of vanilla, coffee, plum, and booze. Tastes and feels like bitter and acidic coffee sludge with a hint of chocolate and a shot of gasoline thrown in for good measure. Dark fruits are also present. Very assertive, butt kicking beer. A bit much to drink more than a few ounces of. Long term aging would do this beer well.

Photo of expatsteve
3.8/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks for sharing this one, Golden2wenty1.

Appearance: Black, with a 1/2 inch cappucino head. Nice thick lacing on the beer and the glass. Medium viscosity.

Aroma: Plum, cane sugar, chocolate and a booze/hops edge.

Taste: Booze over chocolate and molasses. Cream, toffee, raisin developments, along with a sharp boozy bite. Plum sweetness and a few espresso bursts, but definitely the most spicy stout I've ever had.

Mouthfeel: Thick and spicy, with a lot of hops and booze character. Low carbonation focuses attention squarely on the more aggressive characteristics of the beer.

Drinkability: While the flavor is balanced and fairly impressive, the bite in this beer is definitely a challenge. Enjoyable and distinct, but not most drinkable big stout I've had. Will probably please hopheads and strong beer fans who appreciate aggressive flavors.

Bell's Expedition Stout from Bell's Brewery, Inc.
95 out of 100 based on 5,471 ratings.